Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Papparazi Bahrania

Having lunch earlier on, I quickly took this shot of Steve Job, founder of Apple sitting on the table next to us. I had a good mind to go up to him and tell him I dont think the ipod is gona last 2 years.

Steve Job

And it really is him, as verified by this description in an article I found online:

Everyone knows Parisians are snobs. So it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise that an unshaven, middle-aged American, speaking English and dressed in cuffed jeans, sneakers, and a worn black T-shirt, was rudely turned away from the bar at a lavish fete inside Paris's Musee d'Orsay on September 16, 2003.

Except that the man was Steven P. Jobs, the cofounder and chief executive of Apple Computer Inc.

Ok Ok, big deal...sorry, i just wanted to prove to myself that it is useful carrying your camera everywhere, shame I didn't have it when I bumped into Madonna, Hugh Grant, and D-list like Jordan, Rebecca Loos and a host of arab celebs. This week the sequel to Basic Instinct is being filmed in my uni, wohooo, i'll keep an eye out for Sharon Stone... i really think i have a budding future in the paparazzi...there is a gem of a photo i'm hiding of an arab popstar in a charity concert whose brief appearance on stage exposed more than just a bad voice.. now where do i go to sell this photo?

Gift Ideas

I thought i'd use this blog for something vaguely useful instead of letting it lie dormantly in cyberspace today. I have to get a graduation present for a close friend of mine and my boss’s birthday is coming up this week too. Let me just say that both are materially well-endowed, that is putting it mildly since they are probably worth half of Bahrain’s GDP collectively.

any suggestions for something cheap and cheerful, that won’t strain my limited resources and serve as a decent gift too?

(PS no one say a 'good book', I thought of that one already, but I ruled it out)

Monday, May 23, 2005


"The Committee was concerned about the persistent gap between the legislative framework and its practical implementation with regard to the obligations of the Convention; the lack of a comprehensive definition of torture in the domestic law as set out in article 1 of the Convention; the large number of allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees committed prior to 2001; the apparent failure to investigate promptly, impartially and fully the numerous allegations of torture and ill-treatment and to prosecute alleged offenders; the inadequate availability in practice of civil compensation for victims of torture prior to 2001; lack of access by independent monitors to visit and inspect places of detention without prior notice; and the rejection of the House of Deputies in March 2005 of the establishment of an independent National Human Rights Commission.

The Committee recommended, among other things, that Bahrain adopt in its domestic penal law a definition of torture in terms consistent with article 1 of the Convention; respect the absolute nature of article 3 in all circumstances and fully incorporate it into domestic law; consider steps to amend Decree 56 of 2002 to ensure there was no impunity to officials who had perpetrated or acquiesced in torture or other cruel and inhuman or degrading punishment; ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism, including the draft law, be in accordance with Security Council resolutions; fully ensure the independence of the judiciary; and consider adopting a Family Code including measures to prevent and punish violence against women."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Student Prayer

I put this up for my sake as well as all the other students facing exams this time of year.

الدعاء قبل المطالعة

اللهم نفعني بما علمتني وعلمني ما ينفعني اللهم إني أسألك فهم النبيين وحفظ المٌرسلين والمقُربين اللهم

اجعل لساني ذاكراَ بأمرك وقلبي بخشيتك إنك على ماتشاءُ قدير وانت حسبنا الله ونعم الوكيل


الدعاء عند المطالعة العصبة

اللهم لا سهل إلا ما جعلتهُ سهلاَ إنك تجل العصب إذا ما شئت سهلاَ إنك على ماتشاء قدير و أنت حسبنا الله

ونعم الوكيل


الدعاء بعد المطالعة

اللهم إني استودعٌك ما قرائتهٌ فرٌدها الي عند حاجتي اللهم إنك على ماتشاءُ قدير وأنت حسبُنا الله ونعم الوكيل


الدعاء قبل الامتحان

ربِ أشرح لي صدري ويسر لي أمري واحلل عُقدت من لساني يفقهُ قولي وأنت اللهم ربي ومُعيني عليك توكلت

وإليك أنيب اللهم اجعل في قلبي بصراَ ونوراَ وفهماَ وعلماَ برحمتك يا ارحم الراحمين

نسألكم الدعاء

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Noble or outrageous?

Noble or outrageous?

This photo of a women washing cars outside a shopping mall was published in Alwasat newspaper last year.

Alot of people were outraged that a 'Bahraini' woman has to resort to this kind of work for money. Its not the sort of image u'd expect to see in the 'oil-rich Gulf'.

To be fair, after the story was broken, this lady did get offered another job. I don't know how many other women work in hard-labour jobs, but I heard that many work in factories in terrible conditions too. This reminded me of one of the first posts I made 6 months ago about Bahrain's star volleyball player collecting tin cans for a living.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Keepin' it short & sweet

No shortage of interesting material on the planet to blog on, though i'm suffering from a severe bout of CBA* Syndrome right now so i'll be quick:

As u can tell i'm in a vibrantly good mood today.

*Can't Be Arsed

To Jassim Alsaeedi...
With Love. Bahrania

See Chan'ad's Redressing Torture for more details.

من الصبح بطّلت الجريدة وراسي افتر
شفت (السعيدي) وصورته جنه( كنكتر)
فـي الـبرلمان يـصارخ وبيدينه دفتر
* ويـقول قـانون الـملك لا تـمنعونه
شـدني الخبر رحت (التتمة) أبغي اقراه
والله خـرطي( الشيخ) يلقبونه ، ألف آه
شاخت اضروسه وغربل الله كل فتاواه
* وينه ووين الدين؟ وعن الشيوخ وينه؟
فـحوى الـخبر انه عفس ليهم الجلسة
وأي جـلسة يـتكلّم يـسّوي فيها عفسة
أرائـه عـوجة هالخبل وأفكاره حوسة
* ومـن( تورا بورا) جنه امحّول علينا
قـانون هـذا يـحمي اللي عذب الناس
قـانون مـن سنه ابد ما يحمل احساس
يـساوي بـين الظلم والمظلوم وتنداس
* فـيه الـكرامة واللي يبطش يرفعونه
مـن قـبل هـالمجنون يريد العزا يمنع
ويـقول ازعـاج الـماتم لازم انـزع
هـذي بـطولة عندي خل الناس تسمع
* مـسكين يحسب أي شيء بيطاوعونه
يـا خـايب الـحظ والرجا خل الدلاعة
وخـل الزمط جانب ولا تمشي البضاعة
ولا تـدور الـشهرة ترى تزول المناعة
*والـعزا مـبدا فـي الـقلوب امغلفينه
مـحفور فـي الـصدور حـبنا للماتم
ومـا مـمكن بلحظة على المبدا نساوم
جـرب تـشوف الـناس بتسطر ملاحم
* تـحمي عـقيدتها ودمـهم يرخصونه
والـقهر بـيدافع عـن الـلي عـذبونا
والـلي رمـونا فـي الـسجون والمونا
هـذا شـكثر قـلبه بـحقد يحقد علينا
*هـالناصبي الـشيعة لازم يـحذرونه
والـقهر اسـمع عـنه بـيسافر اوربا
وفـي الـطائرة معلوم بياذي اللي صوبه
يـا ربـي ما يرجع ويسفرونه( لكوبا)
* (لـغوانتنامو) ويـا ربـعه يـحبسونه
مـستغرب انا شلون هذا يصييرنائب؟
ما عنده شهادة وفي الاعدادي كان راسب
بـس لـحية عـنده ينخدع منها الناخب
* وبـالدين يـتلاعب عشان يرشحونه
اشـلون نـترجى مـن المجلس منافع؟
وهـذا الـسعيدي جـاثم بكرسيه وقابع
ولا يـوم شـفنا عن حقوق الناس يدافع
*يـا لـيت يـطردونه بشوته ويفلتونه
لـو فـيه خـير الـبرلمان احنا دخلنا
ومـنهو بـثقة واخلاق وبطيبة انتخبنا
ولا فـاز هـذا بـشلته واحنا اللي فزنا
*لـكن يـراويك الـزمن جوره وفنونه

By Qamr Alhowashim

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Blog Quiz #2 - Answers

The main source of information for the quiz was the paper "Patrons, immigrants and ma'tams in Pre-modern Bahrain", by Nellida Fuccaro, and a series of papers written by Hasan Abdulla here and here. The former uses a book by Abdulla Sayf as its source. The answers are open to debate, and any input or corrections i'm sure would be useful to the authors of the papers. A few of you did manage to get some write, well done!
  1. When did the first Ashoora procession take place in Bahrain?
  2. In 1891 Muhammad Mirza Ismail, a Persian merchant, used his position as agent for the British India navigation company to lead the procession in front of the Ma’tam bin Rajab, one of the oldest of the city. This was a momentous event for Manama’s Shi’i communities. People flocked behind an heavily armed Mirza Ismail who confident of British protection made his way through Manama streets defying the veto imposed by the Sunni rulers on public manifestations of Shi’i devotion.

  3. What ‘new’ tribal town was established in 1809?

  4. Muharraq, was a ‘new’ tribal town established in 1809 on an island facing Manama.

  5. Name a Bahraini who started off working as an as an interpreter for the British Agency in 1893 and then went on to become an extremely wealthy businessman.
  6. For some foreign merchants political connections yielded spectacular results. Ahmad bin Yusuf Kanu, an Arab originally form southern Iran, started his career in 1893 as an interpreter for the British Agency. Acting as middlemen for the Agency and for British companies he became an enormously rich and influential businessmen, and adopted a cosmopolitan outlook and lifestyle. Shaykh ‘Isa resented so bitterly his association to the British that in 1920 Major Dickinson, the Politcal agent, remarked that ‘he undoubtedly would get into serious trouble if [the] British ever withdrew from Bahrain’. As Yusuf Kanu’s example suggests 19th Manama was a city of self-made immigrants where merchant capital and outside connections were far more important than decades of prominence on the local scene. Even when Manama’s notables like Yusuf sat on one of commercial councils convened by the ruler in Muharraq (particularly the majlis al-‘urf), their appointment did not automatically grant them access to new sources of wealth and influence. Rather, it expressed Shaykh ‘Isa’s recognition of their ability to control the material and human resources of Manama and to contribute to the often depleted treasury of the royal family, particularly with cash loans.

  7. By 1905 Manama had 13 main ma’tam buildings , 11 controlled by the Baharna (Arab population of the city) and two by the Persian. What was the first ma’atam to be established in Manama and who established it?
  8. Ma'atam Bin Rajab in the 1840s? was this the first. i'm not sure.

  9. In what period of the 19th century did the collapse of the pearl industry occur with an ensuing poverty and famine decimating the urban population?
    In the late 1920s, beginning 1930s, as a result of the world depression, which reduced demand for Bahraini pearls, and as a result of the Japanese development of a cheaper way to “breed” pearls, or make cultured pearls.
  10. Who gave this illustration of the 'intricate role of weapons of the weak' in local politics:
    '.... Bus- and taxi drivers went on strike. They copied the technique of the Beirut taxi-drivers who constantly went on strike. They caused an almost total dislocation of traffic by organising bands of small boys -and sometimes girls- who strewed the roads with nails, struck through Coca-Cola bottle tops, which punctured the tyres of hundreds of cars. The boys used to dash out from narrow lanes, lay a few nails and watch the results from dark alleys where they could easily retreat. It may sound absurd that the activity of lads and children caused such serious trouble, but it was very difficult for the police to catch them, and although a number of boys who were caught were suitably dealt with they were not deterred. The strike was to some extent due to the high premiums which were demanded by British and other insurance companies. When the Government gave permission to a local company to compete with the foreign companies most of the opposition died away and the strike ended. However having once learned 'the nail game' small boys found it such a fascinating occupation that they engaged in it whenever there was any trouble in Bahrain, and sometimes they played it for their amusement'.
  11. While 'everyday forms of resistance were originally associated with peasants it is not strictly a peasantry affair. Susan Ekstien notes (1989: 8-9) that all subordinates social groups may resist conditions imposed by dominant groups in roughly similar ways. Sir Charles Belgrave (1960), the British advisor to the rulers of Bahrain 1926-57, gave the illustration above which is an example of this.

  12. When was the first prolonged and organised industrial strike in the oil industry?

  13. Although work conditions in the oil industry were by far better than those of their former occupations, oil workers carried sporadic work stoppages to demand improvements. The first prolonged and organised industrial strike was in December 1943. The strike was successful, partly because the British feared its influence on the war effort in the region. (See: Abdulla Khalid, 1979:104-121).

  14. Which Sheikh was said to have had a Jewish prostitute called ‘Mas’ooda’ who was used to lure the sons of noblemen to her house after which the Sheikh’s men would blackmail them for large sums of money or expose the scandal and imprison them.

  15. Abdulla bin Isa Alkhalifa, the rular of the Sanabis and Jidhafs fiefdoms. A letter written by the British Agent, Mr Daley (?) dated 3/1/1922 records some of this Sheikhs misdimeanours.

    1- أن الشيخ عبد الله يحتفظ بعاهرة اسمها مسعودة، وهي يهودية استدرجها لذلك العمل و كانت خليلته لبعض الوقت، وكان له مع هذه المرأة ترتيب معين تقوم بمقتضاه باستدراج شباب من العوائل المحترمة إلى بيتها، و هناك يهجم عليهم فداوية الشيخ عبد الله ثم يطلب منهم دفع مبالغ كبيرة في مقابل عدم الكشف عن القضية و عدم سجنهم
    2- خلال موجة الحر الماضية، اختطفت زوجة خياط من السنابس و احتجزت عدة أيام في بيت الشيخ عبد الله، و هدد الزوج، مع العلم بأنه لا يستطيع الشكوى إلا لدى الشيخ عبد الله نفسه ( حاكم السنابس المطلق).3- أن الشيخ عبد الله هو حاكم منطقة جدحفص و وزيره هناك شخص اسمه عبد الله بن رضي، و يقوم هو و زوجته بتصريف شئونه هناك، وقد اجبر العديد من النساء على زيارة الشيخ في بيت الوزير، وقد خطفت ابنة ##### و حبست عدة أيام، و كذلك ابنة ##### و في كل حالة تم تهديد الأباء مع العلم بأنهم لن يحصلوا على حكم عادل في كل الأحوال، وفضل الأباء كذلك عدم فضح المسألة حفاظا على شرف العائلة و سمعتها، و منذ ذلك الوقت قام أباء هاتين البنتين بإرسالهما إلى القطيف كل عام في موعد زيارة الشيخ عبد الله لجدحفص. ( القضية معروفة في
    المنطقة لتاريخ نشر هذه الورقة ).

9. In what year were the first ever public calls for an elected legislative chamber (parliament), and reforms in the police and judicial courts?

    Late 1930s read below for more details.

    في سبتمبر 1938م سافر الشيخ حمد بن سلمان للعلاج في كشمير و خلف ابنه سلمان وليا للعهد، و كان السيد يوسف فخرو يجوب المناطق لتحبيب الشيخ سلمان ( في مقابل عمه عبد الله بن عيسى الذي لازال يطمع في الحكم ) للناس، و قد سعى الشيخ سلمان للتقرب من الشيعة، مما حدا بعدد من شخصيات الشيعية للتعاضد مع إخوانهم من أهل السنة و التقدم بالمطالب الإصلاحية و هي تكوين مجلس تشريعي منتخب ( برلمان ) و إصلاح الشرطة و المحاكم و غيرها، بالاضافه إلى مطالبتهم بتعين الشيخ سلمان وليا للعهد بصورة رسمية.

    و كانت هذه الحركة هي أول حركة وطنية مطلبيه منظمه تطالب بإصلاح سياسي لتواكب الإصلاحات الإدارية السابقة، و قد تصدرت شخصيات وطنية سنية ( علي بن خليفة الفاضل، محمد الفاضل، خليل المؤيد، يوسف كانو، عبدالرحمن الزياني، سعد الشملان، احمد الشيراوي ) و شخصيات وطنية شيعية ( محسن التاجر، محمد علي التاجر، السيد سعيد السيد خلف، عبدعلي العليوات، منصور العريض، السيد احمد العلوي، الشيخ عبد الله بن محمد صالح، حاجي احمد بن خميس ).

10. One of the companions of the Prophet (swt) is buried in Bahrain after being banished from Kufa by Muawiya. What is his name and where is he buried?

    Sa'sa'ah ibn Sowhan Al-abdi died in 60 hijri and is buried in Askar (see map below for other notable persons buring in Bahrain- the english is pretty poor translation of the arabic, but its a useful map)

عاش صعصعة فترة طويلة من الزمن وعاصر الرسول الأعظم والخلفاء الراشدين . وقد اصطدم في اكثر من موقف بالخلفاء الطغاة حتى جاء معاوية بن أبي سفيان وقال له : " والله لأجفين بك الوساد ، وأشردن بك في البلاد . " فأمر معاوية المغيرة بن شعبة بابعاده عن الكوفة ونفيه إلى جزيرة أوال ( البحرين حاليا ) . وعلى هذه الأرض ، أرض أجداده جاء أجله فدفن في قرية عسكر سنة 60 هـ وعمره 70 سنة .

وقد رثى صعصعة الإمام علي (ع) عند مماته بكلمات منها :

هل خبر الغبر سائليه أم قر عينا بزائريه

أم هل تراه احاط علما بالجسد المستكين فيه

لو علم القبر من يواري تاه على كل من يليه

يا موت ماذا أردت مني حققت ما كنت أتقيه

An important event which I touched on in Blog Quiz #1 was the Battle of Dul3 which occurred in 1869. I offer a simple translation from Hasan Abdulla's papers:

Mohd bin Khalifa was known for his extreme tyranny in Bahrain, Qatar and Eastern province. The situation got so bad that the British had to directly intervene, ousted Mohd bin Khalifa, banished him and replaced him with Ali bin Khalifa. This period was marked by in-fighting in the Al-khalifa family, the main battle of Dul3 in the 1869, in which the Abdulla bin Ahmed branch of the family regained power for a short period of time, after which the British intervened again to oust and banish this branch of the Al-khalifa (Mohd bin Abdulla, Nasser bin Abdulla and his son Ali bin Nasser and other sons) to Qatar and Hassa, where that branch remains till today.

What happened was that Ali bin Khalifa asked the British to allow his brother Mohd to return following the coup which ousted him, argueing that it would be easier to keep an eye on him in Bahrain. However, Mohd continued to plot to overthrow his brother when he returned to Bahrain and so was exiled to Kuwait and then he moved to Qateef. There he forged an alliance with Nasser bin Mubarak (the grandson of Abdulla bin Ahmed) and together planned to attack Ali bin Khalifa. In 1869, both men led a sea campaign consisting of five boats and 500 men, attacking Bahrain shores and in East Rafa3 there ensued the Battle of Dul3 in which Ali bin Khalifa and his son were killed.

This divided the Al-khalifa family in half. Nasser bin Mubarak bin Abdulla went to Qatar to seek recourse from the Ottomon rular of Qatar, Qassim the Second. Following warnings from Britain to Qassim and Nasser not to intervene in Bahraini affairs, Qassim cunningly, decided to wed his daughter, Mariam, to Nasser for political purposes.

What I find most interesting about this event is to understand the role the colonialist powers played in domestic politics and their role in propping up a ruling family in order to gain domestic stability. At that time, there was a mass exodus of Bahrainis escaping the terror of the rulers at the time. Baharna communities sprung up around the world from Zanzibar, to the Seychelles, and even as far as some European countries. I've seen photos of Baharna fighting in the Saudi army against the Ottomons because thousands of Baharna had fled Bahrain and settled there.

Unfortunately, it hard to come by any detailed information of this event. I don't know if anyone has dug up the British documents on this. Maybe my curiosity arose purely because this event has been totally covered up and the current members of the family wish to see it totally wiped off the history books. As they say history is written by the winners, maybe this blog quiz was a simple attempt to highlight certain events that the 'winners' would rather not dwell on. If you look at nearly all accounts of Bahrain's history online, you will see that there is a giant gap from pre-islamic Bahrain to the Portuguese conquests, afterwhich Alkhalifa appear on the scene. Literally, over a 1000 year gap. In one account, it was said that this period was 'characterised by relative tranquility'. Ok, so nothing happened in that 1000 years worth mentioning at all? Some would like us to think that life in Bahrain began when Ahmed Alfatih 'liberated' Bahrain, as if Bahrain was living in an age of darkness before the current rulars came along and then a torch shone over Bahrain for the next two centuries.

A total whitewash of our history is unacceptable. Bahrain was a great civilisation, lived through a glorious post islamic-period, produced some respectable philosophers, was home to many noble men, and saw a string of dynastic elites rule the country for centuries. All of which are considered not worthy teaching in school, or even naming a road after.